A 2019 film, The Professor and the Mad Man, is a true story starring Mel Gibson as Professor James Murray, and Sean Penn as Dr. William Chester Minor. The quick summary is Professor James Murray begins work compiling words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid-19th century, and receives over 10,000 entries from a patient at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dr. William Minor.
What unfolds, though, is much deeper and profound. Some of you might find this movie boring and slow, but I was fascinated by it, perhaps because I am a writer of words. I was also touched by the dual story of a very broken man and how he finds forgiveness and friendship.
You see, Dr. Minor was a brilliant doctor until he went mad, literally. He became paranoid, and as a result of his visions, he shot an innocent man who had a wife and several children. Utterly devastated by his actions, he begins writing the wife and sending her money, asking for her forgiveness.
Dr. Minor was put in an institution that believed in torture for the sake of “research.” He was mistreated beyond comprehension, and through the work with Professor Murray, he finds purpose. It would be years and years before he was correctly diagnosed with schizophrenia.
I think you will enjoy the historical value of the movie, but I hope you catch the powerful messages woven through it. I’ll let you see the movie to fill in all the blanks, but I walked away with two key points of impact:
- Anything worthwhile takes commitment, dedication, and sacrifice. Both men gave their entire lives to the project for the betterment of others. The painstaking work they did to put together a resource that has past the test of time is admirable! They finally completed what they began some 70 years later. Do you have that kind of commitment to stick it through to the very end, even if it is a struggle?
- Compassion and forgiveness go hand in hand. We cannot have forgiveness without first expressing compassion. The wife of the murdered man came to know the gentle side of Dr. Minor and saw the torment he endured through his disease. She had compassion for him and the prison he lived in because of his mental disease, and as a result, she ultimately forgave him for his heinous act of violence. Can you extend compassion to those who hurt you? True forgiveness will require it.
My newest book, Defy Your Diagnosis: Overcome Any Obstacle with the FIT Life Formula, took over four years to write. I about gave up and tossed the entire manuscript because it was extremely painful and difficult to relive those parts of my life again and put them on paper. Yet, I knew God called me to write it so that others could be blessed by its message, so I endured.
While writing it, I came face-to-face with hurts from the past and had to offer compassion to those who wronged me and with it came forgiveness. A healing process that I would not have experienced if I had thrown in the towel and not finished the book.
God has a plan for your skills and talents. He wants to put us to work, but we have to be willing, able, ready, and committed. Until His very last breath, Jesus stayed true to His calling of dying on the cross for our sins, and I am forever and eternally grateful! Need some help getting back on track with your goals? With assessments and significant tools on my tool belt, I can come along side of you with coaching and cheering. Let’s face it, life can be tough! We all need someone in our corner.
God also wants us to forgive others as He has forgiven us. If we hold tightly to our grudges, we will miss out on true forgiveness. We will settle for a watered-down version of it that ultimately creates some bitterness within us. It isn’t easy, but Jesus shows us the way. Seek to understand and love others as He has done for us. I’m a coach who doesn’t leave out the spiritual and relational side of life, and I would love to chat with you on how you can redeem relationships and improve the quality of your life.